The New York Times released an article on April 12th 2016 titled “I Am Not the Decorator: Female Architects Speak Out” and I thought it was appropriate, as a female architect to say a little bit about it. This article was shared with me by one of my successful female architect friends in Boston and one of my other successful entrepreneur female friends in Rochester, New York.
I am not going to say that I have not felt my share of the discrimination, from doing an energy audit where the homeowner asked me where the rest of my crew was and stated that I couldn’t possibly be doing this by myself, to other entrepreneurs asking me to be part of their team so they can take advantage of the minority female owned status that comes along with my owning my own business. But what I want to highlight is, discrimination exists everywhere. I was once told by someone that people would never hire me because I was too young, and yet I walked away from that meeting hearing that what I do was fascinating, and how was I going to get people to talk to me since I was so young. During my time doing audits, I simply explained to the homeowners, if they didn’t feel that I was giving them the best valuable advice at the end of the audit, we would discuss it. And I can’t name one time when I walked away from an audit that the homeowner wasn’t convinced I knew what I was doing. I even had one person tell me they thought I might be the smartest person they ever met. LOL, that one threw me for a loop, but it put a smile on my face, because I strive every day to be good at what I do, and get better at what I love doing.
We should look at Zaha Hadid as the inspiration she was. You might not like her style, that’s fine. The world would be boring if we all liked the same things. Instead, she chose to just keep doing what she loved, even if she got turned down at every corner. So I encourage people out there, don’t be held back by whatever discriminating factor is thrown at you in your field. Don’t be afraid to pursue your dream because someone is going to assume you aren’t “an architect, let alone THE architect”. Stand up for yourself, be proud of what you do, know you are good at your job, and spend everyday trying to be the best you that you can be. That’s what people respect. Just like the examples in the story, if you are working somewhere that isn’t fulfilling your needs, try somewhere else. I encourage you, think outside the box. It’s hard, but aren’t the most rewarding things in life things you had to work for?